Via The Notch (east ridge variation)
Trip distance 7.0 miles round trip
Vertical Gain 3,200
Time 8 Hours
Equipment: Snow shoes, snow pickets, rock gear, rope, ice axes, crampons
Use the crusty snow pack and ascend the north couloir of the notch on the east ridge of Mt Bancroft. I had scoped the pitch while on the standard east ridge route the previous week.
looking down the notch (previous week)
We started out late at the winter TH at 8:00AM. A late start because the winds were forecast to gust to 50mph in the morning then die down after noon. The NOAA weather report was wrong. No wind or weather all day.
The first view of Mt Bancroft from the trail. Mile 1
A+ March day
The first pitch (a bit off route)Mile 2
This turned out to be a great snow climb
snow pitch 1
Doug prepares to lead after cleaning all the snow pickets I set.
Doug starts to lead
looking down, back on route.
looking down back on course
On the route looking up at a cornice in the couloir
(the snow was too soft here)
looking at the steep cornice
Doug ran into very soft conditions, then moved to the rocky ridge right of the couloir.
The rocky slope here was the toughest section. 200’ of class 4 & 5 work to the top of the notch. Here we used the rope for some sketchy sections. The belay setups were very difficult in the snow covered rock.
Using the axe wedged down between covered boulders at one station, then the next setup was what Doug called a Swiss/ Italy belay with the rope over a notch in a boulder.
Swiss / Italy What do you mean? Doug replied"you fall towards Italy, I fall towards Switzerland and the ridge between catches us. OK I said, lets just call it sketchy.
Next to the notch
We made it to the ridge, for a short break to take our crampons off. Now we were ready for the classic part of the route.
Doug working a class 4 section.
Base of class 4 section
on the main ridge class 5 section (crux move)
Doug on the crux pitch
Doug making crux move
Doug with a smile after an exposed class 4 pitch.
wow that was close
Our decent today was perfect. Except.. I some how got stuck carrying all pickets and could not glasade as well as Doug.
Doug singing down the slope
A Ptarmigan sneaking across the snow
(it thinks we don’t see it)
top of ridge
goats on the ridge miles away